About two years ago, Vermont attempted to pass a bill that would “eliminate the automatic exemption for fraternity and sorority property” taxes. Because fraternities and sororities are non-profits, it is uncommon to have to pay the taxes on their gorgeous, and in some cases historical, homes. For many chapters at the University of Vermont, the houses have belonged to the fraternities and sororities for nearly a century.
Two years later, the bill is passed, and will take effect in January 2017. Fraternities and sororities will expect to pay an extra $18,000 a year, and with small chapters (50-80 members), dues will need to be increased by $300 per member in some cases to accommodate the costs, which they simply can not afford.
According to savegreeklifeatuvm.com, this financial burden to the ten housed chapters at UVM will likely be so great that they’ll be forced to sell their properties to UVM or Champlain College. Of course, unhoused chapters are a possibility and exist successfully all over the country, but the ties a fraternity or sorority may have to its house, especially in cases like these, is irreplaceable.
But there is still hope – and you can help. Currently before the Vermont House of Representatives is Bill H.725, which “proposes to allow the property tax exemption for college fraternities and societies to remain current law by repealing the repeal of those provisions.” Additionally, UVM’s Greek Alumni Coalition has proposed a compromise that includes payment to city of Burlington (where the school is located) in lieu of property taxes based on 50% of the city tax rate.
If you want to support the passing of Bill H.725, you can sign this petition. Also, if you happen to be in the area, the group behind savegreeklifeatuvm.com will be hosting a rally at the campus’ Davis Center on March 3rd from 6 – 7:30pm..